Cavanagh saves the Red Hands
As dramatic wins go this must rank up there with the best of them as Tyrone grabbed a sensational goal deep into injury time to get the better of bitter rivals Kerry at Healy Park Omagh on Saturday night.
With the game already two minutes into injury time Tyrone looked to have blown their chance of taking anything when Owen Mulligan missed a straightforward free when they were two points adrift but there was to be a dramatic late twist to the tale.
Brian McGuigan launched the ball in towards the Kerry goal were Joe McMahon got a flick on it before Colm Cavanagh fisted home from close range to give the hosts the win that they required to keep alive their hopes of playing in the top flight next season once again.
There wasn’t even time to take the kick out and Red Hands manager Mickey Harte was full of praise for his charges at the final whistle.
“You could say that it’s the great escape because of the way it ended but the escape didn’t happen with the last shot,” said Harte.
“It happened when they dug in when a man down and then going a goal down almost at the same time.
“It asked a lot of questions of our players and the fact that they gave that extra effort and energy over that period of time when we were down a man, that’s what kept them in the game.
“Ultimately we had to get the goal of course and we were delighted to get it and it’s a bit of a Houdini act if you want to look at it that way but Houdini doesn’t work if you aren’t doing the work up until that time.
“I thought when Owen missed that free that it wasn’t or day, it just wasn’t going to happen for us but ironically it was the winning of the match because if he had scored that point we would have been happy with a point and we would probably have tried for a point but because he missed it we had to go for a goal so its an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody good.”
His opposite number Jack |O’Connor was very downbeat after seeing victory snatched from them right at the death.
“If we had kicked the ball away there with about five seconds to go when it reached the side line I think the game would have been over,” said O’Connor.
“We probably invited them onto us a bit too much in the end because we just didn’t win too much of the ball up at the other end and they were counter attacking pretty well. It’s a hard one to take because I feel that our performance deserved something from the game.”
Tyrone started well with Sean Cavanagh hitting two superb scores and Tommy McGuigan on target as well as they established a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
David Moran and Darren O’Sullivan had Kerry points but Tyrone responded through Kyle Coney and Mulligan and it took a superb save from Brendan Kealy to thwart Sean Cavanagh as the Red Hands threatened to take a stranglehold on proceedings.
It was Kerry though who finished the half strongly with four unanswered points from Donncha Walsh, Kieran Donaghy, Moran and Colm Cooper saw them turn things around to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Tyrone were dealt a blow three minutes into the second half when defender Cathal McCarron was sent off for a second yellow card offence after pulling down Cooper and when Declan O’Sullivan
charged through moments later for a goal the visitors were well in control.
Martin Penrose and Mulligan both converted frees to close the gap before Kerry were reduced to fourteen men when Aidan O’Mahony was straight red card for a foul on Conor Gormley.
Tyrone battled to the end and they got their reward with that Cavanagh goal and the scenes that greeted the final whistle showed just what it meant to the home side. Cavanagh's late intervention was an important one as the former All-Ireland champions have been flirting with relegation, with a match against Galway still to come.
TYRONE: McConnell, Carlin, McMahon, McCarron, Harte, Gormley, McMenamin, Cassidy, Cavanagh [1-0], Coney [0-1], Cavanagh [0-2], Harte, McGuigan [0-3], Penrose [0-3], Mulligan [0-2]. Subs: Jordan (for McMenamin), McGuigan (for McGuigan), O’Neill (for Coney).
KERRY: Kealy, Reidy, Griffin, O’Sullivan, O’Se, O’Mahony, Young, Scanlon, Maher, Moran [0-3], O’Sullivan [1-0], Walsh [0-2], Cooper [0-2], Donaghy [0-1], O’Leary. Subs: O’Sullivan 0-2 (for O’Leary), O’Callaghan (for Walsh), Sheehan (for Maher), O’Connell (for Reidy)
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).